On July 16th of this year I posted a blog entitled, “Oneness Challenged”. I’ve had some months since to continue to try to understand and pursue this God created oneness with my wife. So I thought it might be helpful to revisit oneness in marriage with a little more Biblical exposition. This is just a start, but there is enough herein to make it worth posting.
The first inkling we get of the call to marital oneness appears in Genesis 1:26, 27. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Up to this point in the historical account of creation chronicled in Genesis chapter 1, God had created everything in the heavens and the earth except for humans. All the splendor and diversity and wonder of places like Yosemite, the Rain Forests, the Alps, the Grand Canyon, the Oceans, and then animals like the Blue Whales, Peregrine Hawks, Snow Leopards, etc., were on full display, not to mention the Galaxies in the heavens. But none of those, as awe inspiring as they are, were the pinnacle or climax of God’s creation. Because none of those were expressly created in the likeness or image of our Triune God. Only man and woman were created with the capacity to relate to one another in love and truth, harmony and oneness like God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit had for all of eternity with one another. (Notice the “Us” and the “Our” in that first phrase). Even though God has revealed Himself in scripture throughout as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, He also has time and time again in the scriptures revealed Himself as “One” (cf. Deut. 6:4, John 17). And for those of us who have read the scriptures through from beginning to end countless times – watching our triune God operate in His division of labor, and yet perfect oneness is a sight to behold!
Genesis 2:24 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” This is a foundational verse for the marriage relationship between a man and a woman as can be seen by both Jesus and Paul quoting it in the following passages (below). Because the living God created man and woman fully dependent upon and biologically or physiologically connected to one another, as important as sons are to their parents in helping them with the family business and in helping to take care of them in their old age, their relationship with their God ordained wife is far more important. God designed them to be fully interdependent; fully one. Once they are brought together, everything else must take back stage. “One flesh” obviously includes their sexual relationship, but it extends way beyond that. “One flesh” is something they “become”. It is something that they have been given the capacity for by God in Christ, but that they must be ever more vigilant to pursue and build together in Christ.
Matthew 19:4-6 “And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, “FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH”? “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
In this passage, Jesus is explaining why divorce is antithetical to His design and purpose for marriage. God is the one who “joins” a man and a woman. His joining work in a given couple is meant to be a permanent, ever deeper work of oneness spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, etc. Once a man and a woman come together in marriage, their independent ways of their single days must die. God sees them no longer as two individuals, but “one flesh”. Thus it is a foolish and scandalous thing to contribute to the breaking up of what God has sown together.
I Corinthians 7:3-5 – – speaks of the necessity or priority of sexual oneness in a marriage. (In some marital situations, the pursuit and building of spiritual, emotional and relational oneness may be necessary first for sexual oneness to develop. But this passage makes clear the lack of sexual oneness ultimately is not an option for believers).
Ephesians 5:22-33 esp. vs. 31 (quoting Gen. 2:24) Vs. 22 “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” In other words – don’t be independent; don’t be aloof; self sufficient; under the same roof but living in your own world. Work at being on the same page in every aspect of life with your husband. Vs. 23 “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.” “For” gives a reason for this command in vs. 22 – – because your husband is your head. But lest you emotionally respond to that designation as him being your master and you being his slave, Paul adds that Christ the Head is also our Savior. In other words, He doesn’t thrive out of being the boss. Rather He died so that you may live. He laid down His life and endured horrible suffering so that you can be free and be all that you were called by God to be. That’s what a righteous “head” does. Vs. 24 “But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought be to their husbands in everything.” We the church ideally ought to open up every aspect of our lives to the Lord – seeking His guidance, perspective, wisdom, favor, blessing, etc., on a daily basis. Christ the Head of the church really intends to lead the way for His church, establish the culture for His church, and set the agenda for His church. There is no aspect of church life that we (especially church leaders) should not be seeking His mind and heart for continually. We subject ourselves and our agendas to Him because He loves us, has proven His goodness and faithfulness to us time after time after time, and because He has saved us from sin and hell and Satan.
Sadly because the church in general walks in significant independence from its Head, our revelation and practice of “wives being subject to their husbands in everything” is also weak. The thrust of Paul’s appeal is that wives would voluntarily, out of their love for their husbands and love for and fear of Christ, open their lives, their thoughts, their fears, their desires to their husbands. This verse is not for husbands to manipulate their wives into submission. Rather for wives to again voluntarily shed their independence, and walk in ever increasing oneness with their husbands.
I Peter 3:7 “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” Because women are so diverse from men, husbands must study their wives. Understanding how they think, how they react, why they feel the way they feel at any given moment will never come naturally to we husbands. But by God’s grace and by the leading and wisdom and anointing of the Holy Spirit we can and should relate to them in such a way that they always feel secure and assured of our empathy and insight into their inner world.
Song of Songs 4:15 “You are a garden spring, A well of fresh water, And streams flowing from Lebanon.” This is King Solomon expressing to his wife what she means to him. In the margin of my Bible there is a 1 before the word “fresh”, which informs us that literally it should be translated “living” water. Let me tell you how I discovered this verse this morning (10/10/17). The last two mornings the Lord has woken me up at and gotten me out of bed at 4:15. This morning after I had been with the Lord for a couple of hours I began to ponder this occurrence. Is there any meaning to it? And I felt led to just open the Bible and see where I landed. Well I landed in the Song of Songs. So then I turned to chapter 4 vs. 15. As I began to meditate on this verse I sensed the Holy Spirit instructing me that my wife (and every man’s wife) is hand picked by the sovereign hand of God according to Genesis 2:18 = “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
Now in my Bible there is a 1 before the word “suitable”, which informs us in the margin that that literally should read “corresponding to him”. In other words, God – knowing how he had wired me, knowing my strengths and weaknesses, knowing even what the effects of sin would be in my life 20 something years after I entered the world, picked out a wife that could compliment all of my weaknesses, and help me in all the areas of life I would need help in. God sovereignly and wisely deposited in her a measure of life and resources and life experiences that I could not find anywhere else, and that would be one more reason to bond and cleave with her.
Now Song of Songs 4:15 (“You are a garden spring, A well of fresh water, And streams flowing from Lebanon.”) is specifically speaking to the sexual satisfaction and fulfillment that one’s wife brings to her husband. But I do not believe it is restricted to just that. As a husband opens himself up to his wife and aggressively draws out of her the strengths and wisdom and discernment and input she has for her husband she will become (especially in the Lord) a continual source of life (and healing and wholeness) to her husband (by the power and enabling of the Holy Spirit of course).
• All of the commands to unity and/or the “one anothering” passages for the body of Christ in the New Testament should first be applied by married believers to their spouses. For example see: Romans 12:16; 15:5-7; I Corinthians 1:10, etc.